Psychological Issues Faced by LGBT+ Individuals as a Result of their Sexuality

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Updated: Mar 10, 2021
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Through several research studies, it has been shown that members of the LGBT+ community tend to face more mental strain than those who do not identify with them. Beyond mental strain, LGBT individuals are at a higher risk for stress, self-acceptance, self-esteem, victimization, and suicide. The following studies were performed to gain a better understanding of the psychological issues faced by LGBT individuals and the causes behind them.

Introduction: Anti-LGBT Victimization

In their journal article titled “Anti-LGBT Victimization, Fear of Violence at School, and Suicide Risk Among Adolescents,” Andrew Barnett, Sherry Davis Molock, Karen Nieves-Lugo, and Maria Cecilia Zea studied the correlation between acts of harassment towards LGBT students and the risk of suicide that may appear as a result of this harassment. The psychologists write about past studies on peer victimization and anti-LGBT victimization. It is stated that these sexual minority adolescents are at higher risk for victimization from others based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation. In addition, it is stated that anti-LGBT victimization and suicide risk behaviors; however, anti-bullying policies have resulted in the decline of these behaviors (Barnett, Molock, Lugo, & Zea, 2018).

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Data for this study was collected from October 2012 to January 2013 and involved students enrolled in public or charter high schools (Barnett et al., 2018). Demographics including age, grade, sex, race, and ethnicity were assessed as well as sexual orientation based on whether the student identified as heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or unsure (Barnett et al., 2018). When assessing peer victimization, four different factors were measured. Those who experienced some form of bullying in the past 12 months were marked as 1 while those who had not experienced any bullying at all were marked as 0 (Barnett et al., 2018). Similarly, when assessing anti-LGBT harassment those who had reported harassment based on assumptions of their sexuality were separated from those who reported none (Barnett et al., 2018). The third factor assessed was fear of violence based on whether a student had been afraid of assault in the past 12 months. The final factor assessed was suicide risk behaviors in the students. This factor was assessed by asking students whether they had experienced suicidal thoughts, made a plan for suicide, or attempted suicide (Barnett et al., 2018).


According to their findings, there was evidence linking anti-LGBT victimization with suicidal behavior. Additionally, they was stated that “among the suicide risk behaviors, the strongest association was found between anti-LGBT victimization and suicide attempts, with participants who reported anti-LGBT victimization being more than 2.5 times as likely to report a past-year suicide attempt” (Barnett et al., 2018). There was also evidence that school environment related to suicide risk; however, this was not completely based on sexual orientation as the association between both factors did not differ between sexual minorities and heterosexuals (Barnett et al., 2018).

Introduction: Minority Stress

In their journal article titled “Minority Stress and LGBQ College Students’ Depression: Roles of Peer Group and Involvement,” Danielle Bissonette and Dawn Szymanski studied the correlation between LGBQ minority stressors and depression in these college students. According to Bissonette and Szymanski, depression rates between LGBQ and heterosexual students are affected by minority stress. These stresses result from a hostile environment on campuses including rejection, discrimination, and other prejudices (Bissonette & Szymanski, 2019). Due to the fact that college is such a stressful and relevant point in a student’s life, these minority stressors can have a large impact on stress, anxiety, and depression. Two major focuses for Bissonette and Szymanski were internalized heterosexism and microaggressions in relation to depression. Microaggressions consisted of hostile, derogatory, or negative messages such as being told something is “gay” or that homosexuality is wrong (Bissonette and Szymanski, 2019). Internalized heterosexism is the belief by members of the LGBQ community that any homophobic remarks, stereotypes, and other prejudices towards them are true.


For this study, Bissonette and Szymanski sampled 568 LGBQ identifying college students. In order to recruit a larger scope of students, Bissonette and Szymanski used snowball sampling in which participants help find other potential participants. The first factor that was assessed was depression and other demographics were also taken into account. While assessing microaggressions, the participants were asked to rate potential situations based on how frequently they had experienced them. While assessing internalized heterosexism, a similar system was used; however, participants were asked to rate statements based on how strongly they agreed or disagreed with them. Peer-group relations and campus involvement were also taken into account. Finally, while assessing depression, the participants were asked to rate symptoms of depression based on how often they were experienced.


In their discussion, Bissonette and Szymanski stated that these stressors were positively correlated with depression. In addition, they stated that these forms of stressors were risk factors in the mental health of LGBQ students. Another finding showed that though some students had strong relations with others, this link between microaggressions and depression did not wane. Students with high campus involvement were shown to be the most at risk for depression (Bissonette and Szymanski, 2019). On the other hand, strong relations among students had a positive effect on the link between internalized heterosexism and depression due to the fact that others can provide LGBQ students with reassurance and support (Bissonette and Szymanski, 2019).


  1. Bissonette, D., & Szymanski, D. M. (2019). Minority stress and LGBQ college students’ depression: Roles of peer group and involvement. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity.
  2. Vosvick, M., & Stem, W. (2019). Psychological quality of life in a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender sample: Correlates of stress, mindful acceptance, and self-esteem. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 6(1), 34–41.
  3. Barnett, A. P., Molock, S. D., Nieves-Lugo, K., & Zea, M. C. (2019). Anti-LGBT victimization, fear of violence at school, and suicide risk among adolescents. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 6(1), 88–95.
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